CENTER’s Editor’s Choice Award 2nd Place Winner: Amber Shields
Congratulations to Amber Shields for her 2nd Place win in the CENTER’S Editor’s Choice Award, for her project, Visions of Johanne – The Aging Female Body. The Choice Awards recognize outstanding photographers working in all processes and subject matter. Images can be singular or part of a series.
Juror Bridget Watson Payne, Senior Editor, Chronicle Books shares her thoughts on her selections:
The quality of work submitted to this year’s CENTER Awards was extremely high. It was a joy to view so many powerful images—some beautiful, some wonderfully challenging, some tranquil, some brash—all deeply engaged with the world and the workings of the mind. And, accordingly, it was difficult (at times if felt nearly impossible) to narrow down hundreds of strong portfolios to just three winners. But, as every editor knows, narrow down we must. All three of this year’s winners engage with themes I saw resonating across many of the entries—and, indeed, have seen resonating in the larger photographic community in recent years—but each brings to its theme and subject matter something entirely new and fresh.
What Azalea Trail Maids does for the photographic project of examining a subculture, Visions of Johanne – The Aging Female Body does for portraiture of an elderly relative. The idea of taking one’s own aging parents or grandparents as a photographic subject has been gaining momentum in recent years, but, again, this photographer does something with that material which I’ve never seen before. Perhaps because of her stated aim to counter the societal convention by which the aging female body “is rarely seen, much less celebrated, and…remains virtually invisible to younger female generations,” this photographer has rendered her subject seen to an extraordinary degree. From her incisive glance, manicured hands, and single breast to her crumpled paper medical gown, box of pills, and dish of candy, Joanne is rendered with a clear-eyed tenderness that loses none of its clarity and strength for all its kindness.
Bridget Watson Payne, Senior Editor, Chronicle Books
Bridget is a writer, artist, and book editor. She is the author of the books including This is Happening: Life Through the Lens of Instagram, and New York Jackie: Pictures from Her Life in the City. With fifteen years of experience in the publishing industry, she has collaborated as an editor with hundreds of authors and artists to make their book ideas a beautiful reality.
Amber Shields is a photographer and installation artist currently based in Austin, Texas. She received a MFA in Photography from San Jose State University in California and a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Shields’ artwork has been exhibited internationally including in the Art + Commerce Festival of Emerging Photographers, PS122 Gallery curated by Allen Frame, The Knockdown Center, RayKo Gallery, GrayDUCK Gallery, and various publications including Vice magazine, FlakPhoto, LightWork, Lenscratch and Conscientious websites. Shields was selected to participate in Review Santa Fe in 2010, a New Orleans Photo Alliance grant recipient in 2017, and selected for the PDN Photo Annual in 2018.
Visions of Johanne – The Aging Female Body
Historically, the aging female body has been marginalized in Western mainstream media. It is rarely seen, much less celebrated, and it remains virtually invisible to younger female generations. This exclusion not only maintains rigid ideas about beauty, ability, and health, but also disempowers and disengages women by stigmatizing a pivotal phase of life. In this series, I wanted to expose and record the physiological, psychological, and sociological experience of the aging woman by photographing my grandmother, Johanne, during the last 15 years of her life. – Amber Shields
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